Republican convicted of election day phone jamming was in contact with White House

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at 05:58 PM

In case you missed it, several people have been convicted in connection with Republican efforts to Jam the Democrats get-out-the-vote phones in New Hampshire in the 2002 mid-term election.  Among the convicted is James Tobin, who was working at the time as a regional political director for the RNC-affiliated National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.  Shortly after being indicted for the offense, the RNC began making large payments for his legal defense.

Now come reports that Tobin was in heavy contact with a specific telephone number within the White House in the weeks leading up to the 2002 election, on election day (Nov. 5, 2002), and just after the election.  This included "two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day."

The Republican national party denies that the calls were anything more than routine contact between a regional director and national staff, and calls suggestions that the phone records indicate White House involvement in the phone jamming effort "says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous."  They point out that this info was known at the time of Tobin's trial, and that the DOJ  hasn't accused any White House or national Republican officials of wrongdoing, nor made any allegations suggesting party officials outside New Hampshire were involved. (Is it paranoia to point out that a DOJ headed by Alberto the Slithy might be loath to investigate or charge anyone at the White House for anything?)

The White House phone number involved is 202-456-6173. which now rings in the White House Office of Political Affairs.  At the relevant time in 2002, the Director of that office was Ken Mehlman, now RNC Chair.  To date, no one has been able to verify whether the phone number served that same office in 2002.

According to a 2003 version of a White House web page you can purchase a copy of the current Executive Office of the President Telephone Directory by contacting the Government Printing Office (GPO) Bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20402, Phone: (202) 512-0132.  The cost of the telephone book in 2003 was $13.00.  If any WTW readers are in the D.C. area, you might call that GPO store and see if they have back copies of the 2002 directory.

Details of the calls to the White House--date, time, length of call--can be checked out at this cached version of a Senate Majority web page.

Update [2006-4-12 17:1:13 by Lee Russ]:Today, Mehlman responded to Dean. Per the Boston Globe:

Mehlman acknowledged that James Tobin and other local GOP officials had called Alicia Davis, the White House political operative responsible for the Northeast, in the days surrounding the election. But he said that was because "one of the most competitive" Senate races that year was in New Hampshire.

Polls had indicated the contest between Republican congressman John Sununu and Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen would be a cliffhanger. Sununu defeated Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent.

"As White House political director during the 2002 election cycle, my staff and I regularly communicated with competitive congressional campaigns and Republican Party organizations," Mehlman said. "To be clear, none of my conversations nor the conversations of my staff involved discussion of the phone-jamming incident."